CABIN fever is still a fact of life with us slowly emerging from isolation.
But as Europe prepares to reopen tourism this summer, a French hotspot is ahead with social distancing measures – making it the perfect getaway after the pandemic.
And you don’t have to get on a plane to get there.
The Coucoo Grands Cepages hotel is a few kilometers from Avignon, a city in the south of France easily accessible by Eurostar to Lille, then by fast TGV.
Forget the difficulties of respecting the two-meter rule.
The resort is made up of 20 wooden chalets located about 100 meters apart – so it’s easy to avoid other vacationers.
The chalets are scattered on the magnificent Lioness Lake on stilts, floating on the water or nestled in the vegetation on the banks.
All are perfectly isolated and blend perfectly into the landscape.
Before Coucoo opened in 2017, this serene lake was a dumping ground.
Each cabin now has a hammock on stilts built into the terraces.
So you can lie down and enjoy the low hum of nature with tweeting birds, exotic eagles of the cicadas and soft splashes like a surface of fish in the water below.
Squint and it could be the Maldives.
“The privacy of our customers is a priority,” explains the owner of the Gaspard de Moustier hotel.
“Our cabins are far from each other so that people can get lost in nature. It’s the perfect and safe escape after weeks of incarceration. ”
But beware, there is no wifi, TV or telephone in the cabins. The goal is to disconnect from this world.
Gaspard says: “We don’t like to disturb our customers. They can take a break from their stressful life and leave the worries of Covid-19 behind.
“I will feel happy when someone stays two days and tells me it’s been two weeks.”
Meals are pre-ordered online and left in baskets by staff, who remain invisible and unheard after check-in.
They ring to tell customers that their food has been delivered.
Everything from cold meats to chic condiments comes from local producers scattered throughout the surrounding countryside and from restaurants in the picturesque neighboring village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is world famous for its wine quality. Coucoo closed in March amid the coronavirus epidemic and reopened in mid-May.
Gaspard says: “In a post-Covid world, we will evolve towards more responsible, local and sustainable tourism
“It’s time to support local businesses and embrace nature.”
And this is easy to do with rows of bikes at the front desk for free to walk the 40 hectare site.
The cabins can accommodate two to six people and have many ecological details. Each cabin is insulated with sheep’s wool and tap water is purified in a glass bottle with a bar of activated charcoal.
Even the outdoor hot tubs, found outside a handful of cabins, are environmentally friendly.
With each new reservation, the staff will send a “health charter”, which is a document describing all the security measures in place before customers arrive.
Gaspard says: “Only one guest can be at the reception at a time, the cabins are cleaned carefully and regularly and hydroalcoholic gel is provided. Staff will wear masks and gloves at all times, but always with a big smile. ”
The swimming pool will be closed until July.
But other than that, it’s as usual.
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Gaspard says, “I love nature here – the wildlife, the incredible smells, the bright blue color of the water. It’s a total immersion in nature.
“We need fresh air and open space to shut down our screens.
“This desire is stronger following this crisis. “
GO: Coucoo Grands Cepages Hotel
HOW TO GET THERE: Eurostar has services to Avignon via Lille from St Pancras with prices from £ 73 one way. See eurostar.com.
STAY THERE: Cabins at the Coucoo Grands Cepages hotel start from £ 207 per night for a cabin that can accommodate two people. For more details, see cabanesdesgrandscepages.com.
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